This I Believe

Deborah - Gig Harbor, Washington
Entered on November 1, 2006

I don’t act my age; my thoughts simply don’t correspond with my peers’. Even though my physical appearance implies I’m five years younger than my actual age, friends and family occasionally feel compelled to inform me that I have time to grow up and to have fun while I have time. The truth is I do act like a kid; the only difference from my peers to me is I’ve learned some valuable lessons that let me see life from an older perspective.

When I was about 14 years old I came across a saying that said we have no excuses; others may do something bad, but that is no excuse. I still remember reading that and a light turning on in my head; many other people may be doing it, but it’s still wrong. I have no excuse if I choose to follow the crowd. We’re free to choose how we act, speak, think, feel, etc.; but what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States failed to mention is that we are not free to choose the consequences, or reactions, to our actions. Or even a lack thereof. If we choose not to act on something, we don’t get to choose the ending result. If you don’t vote on an issue, you do not have any right to whine; you just have to live with the consequences. That’s why the only time I speak out against something’s when others overrule my voice.

This sense of responsibility for my actions led to the instilment of integrity into my character. If I don’t do something completely honest I have to live with guilt and possibly paranoia because I might get caught. So, I strive my very best to do everything I try in complete integrity. As a cross country runner the meaning of integrity grew more significant. On my very first day of practice, I realized that I had a lot of work ahead because I was the slowest runner on the team. Coach also told the team that if we wanted to meet our goals, we needed to have integrity; and to have integrity means that we do our absolute best even when nobody is watching. So, with a growing sense of integrity and my competitive nature, I did the most I was capable of to make sure that I left no regret on any trail or course. As a result, I earned the title of “most improved” for two consecutive seasons on a State Cross Country Championship team.

President Abraham Lincoln had a point in his Gettysburg Address; the men who died during the civil war died fighting for what they believed in, and we need to apply that lesson into our lives. If I feel one way about a subject, I’ll do something about it; I’ll just need to be prepared and willing to take responsibility for my actions.